Much as we see our family members' foibles, we see the biggest strategic blunders in pay-TV this year in the same way--not as a chance to pick on operators' decisions, good or bad, but to analyze their mistakes and determine how to avoid similar problems. Here are the five biggest pay-TV turkeys of 2014, in all their glorious plumage.
Despite impasses that have kept its channels off some smaller U.S. cable services, Viacom reported a 22 percent rise in global affiliate fees for its fiscal fourth quarter. The spike was mainly attributable to revenue from SVOD services; however, the conglomerate still experienced a single-digit affiliate fee gain when SVOD was taken out of the equation.
Reversing a trend of serious, chronic carriage impasses with small- and mid-sized cable operators, Viacom has announced a deal with Frontier Communications to renew 27 programming channels.
Suddenlink Communications added 2,200 pay-TV subscribers in the third quarter, despite its removal in September of 22 Viacom channels. The narrow gain in video subscribers was juxtaposed against a loss of 3,200 pay-TV subs in Q3 2013, at a time when the nation's seventh biggest MSO still had Comedy Central, MTV, BET and the rest of the Viacom outlets.
Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cable One now has 476,233 remaining TV customers, a 15.1 percent year-over-year decline, with most of the losses coming after the company decided not to renew its 15-channel bundle with Viacom in April.
Fueling arguments by pay-TV providers that its content is too widely distributed across over-the-top channels, Viacom has significantly expanded its partnership with Hulu.
Eight years after they split into two separately traded media and entertainment conglomerates, an investment analyst is calling for CBS Corp. and Viacom to reunite their forces. "A combined company would have a better ability to negotiate carriage with large MVPDs and preserve affiliate fee and retransmission growth rates," wrote Brett Harriss of Gabelli & Co.
Those attending Friday night's homecoming football game for Capital City High School in Charleston, W.V., were greeted by an official appearance from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles--which happens to be a Nickelodeon property that was recently removed, along with all the of the Viacom channels, from the city's local cable system, Suddenlink.
Seeming to further distance itself from a program renewal deal with Viacom, Suddenlink has signed yet another carriage agreement with a smaller programming network, putting Sony Movie Channel on its program guide.
Making it rather clear that he doesn't support new rules proposed by Canada's version of the FCC that would unbundle pay-TV programming, Viacom's Keith Murphy, SVP of government relations has told the commission that so-called "pick and play" mandates would set off a "consumer welfare-destroying death spiral" for the Great White North's TV industry.